Alice’s Very Important Date

A vintage fashion show goes “Down the Rabbit Hole”

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On April 24th, 2017, what was once just the UNT Union Ballroom was transformed into a whimsical fairy-tale fashion world thanks to the hard work of the talented Merch Inc. fashion show production team, who created a fabulous Spring show titled “Down the Rabbit Hole.”  Unlike Merch Inc. fashion shows in the past, this show has a unique story element  inspired by Alice in Wonderland, using vintage styled looks from Circa 77, a local vintage shop in downtown Denton.

After a long day backstage filled with freshly painted props, endless garment racks, and more eyeshadow palettes than you can imagine, the show finally came together. By the time I took my seat in the ballroom, the anticipation was high, and what was in store for the audience did not disappoint.

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The show began with two figures emerging from the audience, who soon became clear were models representing Alice, from the classic Lewis Carroll novel, and Hamish, her not-so-eligible bachelor. After a dramatic proposal scene on stage, the show began in full force. Model after model emerged in carefully styled and uniquely vintage ensembles, each portraying a fashionable interpretation of classic Alice in Wonderland characters, such as the Cheshire Cat, Tweedle-Dee, and The Mad Hatter. The models each walked in character, sauntering past magical mushrooms and roses throughout the runway.

The rest of the show paid homage to the classic Alice in Wonderland“Tea Party,” the iconic “White Queen” and “Red Queen” scenes. Each section of the show had its own feel and attitude, which complemented the outfits being modeled perfectly. The tea party looks were a combination of preppy and retro, whereas the white queen looks were celestial and angelic, giving the models an appearance of floating on air. Finally, the show came to an end with the finale of the Red Queen, which included a series of fierce and fiery red and black looks.

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The attendees of the Spring Merch Inc. show were transported to another world, myself included. The students, volunteers, and staff who worked tirelessly to put the show together delivered something truly unforgettable and special. As Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice in Wonderland, “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” “Down the Rabbit Hole” was a wonderful escape from reality, and an impressive showcase of the imagination and creativity UNT’s merchandising students possess.

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Show Production by the Merchandising Inc Fashion Show Committee

Words by Reiily Farris

Photography by Criselda Ocon and Michaela Bull

Edit by Maia Wilson

Click the slideshow to see into the show!

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An Alice in Wonderland Debut

Going “Down the Rabbit Hole”

Every year, Merchandising Inc. (the fashion organization that is over NuView Magazine) hosts a fashion show on what promotes the zeitgeist of fashion from a collegiate perspective. Every year is different from the next because of the producers’ vision and style captured on campus. This year symbolizes a twisted time for our nation reflected in the desire for a fantasy world. Enter “Down the Rabbit Hole,” an all-student-run fashion show inspired by the combined 2001 and 2010 movie versions of Alice in Wonderland.

The show will take place on Monday, April 24th at 7pm in the UNT union ballroom room 314. Tickets are sold at the door for $5 cash or card. We wouldn’t want you to miss it, but in case you’re several miles away (due to the fact that this is a global site) check back in a week to get the full coverage of both behind the scenes and close-ups during the show. Explore the imagery below to keep you captivated until the day of show!

 

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Words by Maia Wilson

Videography by Lauren McMichaels

Photography by Michaela Bull

Styling by Raeleigh Hall

Modeling by Melissa Caskey

Hair by Carolina Gonzalez

Makeup by Taylar Gomez

Graphic Design by Philip Galuban

Mask by Rose Kuo

Be True to Yourself

I never dress like a professor. I rather dress to be who I am and show what’s important to me.” – Dr. Strübel

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During lectures, Dr. Strübel, the fashion theory and historic costume professor at UNT, often mentions how she has experienced different dressing styles and how they have influenced her research. In fact, her lectures are not only interesting, but inspirational to many. She allows students to test the limit and making them to think outside the box. But there is always that one question that every one of her students wonders, what does Dr. Strübel look like before she became a professor?

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Photo Credit: The Fashionisto

“I basically looked like a female version of Kurt Cobain. Bell Bottom jeans, concert T-shirt and Dr. Martin’s”, Dr.Strübel said, describing to me her go-to outfit when she was 18 or 19 years old. She began to draw a clearer image to me by relating her look to Kurt Cobain and her mom used to refer her as “the dirty hippie.” Music made a imprint on her way of style. Grunge and rock bands were her inspiration, but not until her friend introduced her to rave culture where she first discovered human suspension.

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Photo Credit: WION

“MTV was on 24/7, I was watching what everyone was wearing.” She expressed that she was shocked at first, but at the same time she was drawn to the eccentricity. She was tracing back the memories of how secretive raves used to be and told me the only way they found out about the rave was from posters around campus or record stores and would have to call the number listed to find out details. Her favorite outfit was a vinyl, bright blue pant, a graphic t-shirt and white vinyl jacket, then she would pair them with her platform shoes and silver spiked hair.

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Photo Credit: Returns of Kings  (One of Dr. Strübel’s favorite band “Rammstein, she actually has this same exact picture in her office)

My blue spiky hair was nothing like they had seen before!” Once she entered her graduate school, she cut her hair short and dyed it blue. So the goth and punk age began. She got back all the piercings she had in high school and more, and each tattoo she got was more visible than the last. Dressing was a way for her to understand who she was. She never wanted to look the same as anyone else. She wanted and still wants to look apart from the ordinary and believed it was the only way to be taken seriously.

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Photo Credit: ALL MUSIC

“I changed how I looked, but internally I am still who I was.” Because of her career path, she was told to “clean up” her look. In her words, “the Banana Republic’s poster child”. She had to hide her true self behind the stuffy business professional look to fit in the standardize world. It was uncomfortable and suffocating. Then she found out  her students actually react better when she’s herself and didn’t want her to be the stodgy business professor. Though it might set her apart from the students, she never intended to dress to be someone she is not.   

“Don’t give a shit of what other people think of you.”  Since last fall, she started to show her tattoos and actually was considering dying her hair again (maybe peach or  bright pink). I asked her if she could say something to her old self what it would be, and she laughed and said “maybe vinyl is not the best thing to wear in the Winter, but honestly I really like how I was, I enjoyed surprising older people at Denny’s at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning when we were just getting back from a rave. We weren’t loud, they were just so unfamiliar with the way we looked.” Dr. Strübel is never ashamed of who she is.

Though Dr. Strübel will no longer be teaching at UNT and is moving to Rhode Island for the next semester, she taught us to continually be ourselves. Get that tattoo that you always wanted, dye your hair the color you always dreamt of, because the only way to find happiness is to be YOU. For many of us who are still trying to figure out who we want to be, just remember to always stay true to yourself.      

Special thanks to Professor Jessica Strübel for allowing us to interview you.

Words by Rose Kuo

Images courtesy of Dr. Strübel and All Music, Return of Kings, Wion, and Fashionista

Edit by Maia Wilson and Reilly Farris

Diving into Show Production

 

Two sophomores get a jumpstart into their careers

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When is it too early to start looking into internships? The answer is NEVER. Katlan Henderson and Chanell Portis are sophomores in the Merchandising program at UNT and have begun their interning experience NOW by working for Rhonda Sargent Chambers Show Productions as paid interns. They have both gained an abundance of skills from working with RSC that they plan to use in their future fashion careers.

A common question I’ve found that many students have about internships, is where you look to find the internships themselves. How did you find out about interning for RSC? What was the process like?

Katlan: It wasn’t really a traditional process of getting an internship. In this case I didn’t have to seek out this internship. I had volunteered for RSC numerous times and built a professional relationship with Rhonda and her team. One day I woke up and checked my email and she had offered me a spring internship with her! In this case the previous work and time I had put in with her benefitted me most. I worked her events as a volunteer for about a year before I was offered the position as an intern.

Chanell: I started as a volunteer for Rhonda, I heard about my first opportunity after getting an email because I was a member of Merchandising Inc. After working multiple shows and staying in contact with her, she offered me a position on her team. I worked hard as a volunteer and she was able to see how hard and diligently I worked.

 

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What are common tasks you do when assisting RSC?

K: My responsibilities vary depending on the event. Rhonda has allowed me to work front of house and back of house so tasks often differ. Common responsibilities with every event are usually pre-dressing and fitting models, organizing their rack, checking models in, dressing models during actual show time, taping shoes, tagging clothing, steaming clothing, etc.

C: I usually show up hours ahead of the show to help prep-garment racks, organize clothing, accessories, and shoes. My tasks can change depending on the event and the volunteers that Rhonda has working that day. Since I have worked with her team many times before, I am given more responsibility to do more difficult tasks. I have personally assisted her and worked front-of-house managing guests, organized models, and a commonly help dress and change models during the show.

 

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Can you describe a memorable moment or experience that you’ve had while working with RSC?

K: My favorite memory working with RSC is when I worked the Versace Show. Versace as a brand has always been a favorite of mine and I’m a huge Donatella fan. Being up close, touching and seeing all of the details in her designs before the show was amazing. That show was also the first time I really got to be laid back and talk personally with Rhonda. It was the first show that she gave me the chance to prove myself at the front of house and back of house. Afterwards, she stuck around and chatted with Chanell and I. We took selfies and she video-taped us pretending to go down the Versace runway after the show was over; it was great!

C: I have had many incredible and memorable experiences when working with RSC productions. Around May of last year I had worked the DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting Against Aids) fashion show. The theme was cirque, so there were grandiose costumes, painted dancers, animals, drag queens, clowns, and so much more. I was also able to meet and create relationships with a few models that I still talk to today.

Another memorable moment was when I was invited to work the Dallas Versace show. It was wonderful to see the beautiful clothes I had seen on the Fashion Week runway and be a part of something so special! All in all, I have been able to create and strengthen friendships and connections, which is something so incredibly special to me.

How do you think this job will benefit you once you graduate and enter the workforce?

K: The main skill I’ve gained from working with RSC is how to have incredible attention to detail and work swiftly at the same time. The pace of fashion shows is incredibly fast and you have to be able to keep up. There’s a strategy to everything that’s done backstage and I think the best skill that working with her gives you is the ability to think on your feet. Sometimes, things go wrong and you have a split second to figure out how to fix it so that the people watching on the other side of the wall don’t know anything is wrong. The ability to work with people efficiently is something Rhonda and her team do very well and subconsciously teach the rest of us.

C: Working in the production side of fashion shows is nothing like many would believe it to be. It is an enormous amount of work. I was able to learn to communicate with various personalities, plan and organize apparel, keep track of inventory, manage guests and models, and style looks. I believe that with these skills, a future employer will see my ability to learn quickly, my diligence with performing tasks, and my knowledge to further help my career.

 

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Would you recommend doing an internship (assuming it wasn’t a requirement to graduate) to a student wanting to enter the fashion industry?

K: Yes, I definitely would. I feel that it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before you decide that you want to do this particular job as a career. I’ve always wanted a career, not a job, so I want to be certain that I enjoy what I do. Doing numerous internships helps you figure out exactly what niche I fit into, what doesn’t work for me and what does. My advice to anyone wondering if they should do more than their required internship is to definitely try everything you can make time for.

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C: Yes! I would highly recommend that students pursuing any career in fashion, should do an internship. An internship allows you to gain invaluable experience, make connections and fully develop the skills and knowledge within a certain field. School can only teach you so much, it is the hands-on experience that will truly push you further. Anyone can go to school, but it takes a person with passion and drive to make their dream a reality.

The skills that Katlan and Chanell have learned while interning for RSC will be incredibly beneficial in the future when it comes time for them to enter the workforce. By taking the initiative to take part in such a fast-paced position, they’re setting themselves apart from other applicants in their field of interest. While your classes give important knowledge on different aspects of the interest, the experience you gain will benefit you the most, as it has for them.

 

Follow Katlan Henderson and Chanell Portis on Instagram @kae.mechele and @chanellportis

Words by Raeleigh Hall

Edit by Reilly Farris and Maia Wilson

Images from Katlan Henderson and Chanell Portis